Hull FC suffered their first defeat of the season on Sunday afternoon, losing 18-32 to St Helens.
So much for Fortress KCOM then.
1.. Two halves
Contrary to what Hull FC believe, games of rugby league last for eighty minutes. The contrast of the first and second half displays were massive. It was a problem right throughout last season and on this occasion coincided with who was on the field.
Whilst not the most flamboyant game you’ll ever see, there was a lot of endeavour from Hull in a tough and physical first half that the home side arguably got the better of. However it was all undone in the second. Hull weren’t at it after half time and quivered in adversity. Two mistakes proved crucial as a hard-earned lead was softly given up with Saints going from 6-2 down to a lead of 6-24 at ease and in no time at all.
Sure there’s some quality out on the sidelines for one reason or the other, but both sides had key players missing, so suck it up. Yes you can’t win every week, but we’ve got to expect and demand better. It’s the manner of defeat and that ‘third quarter’ after half time wasn’t good enough.
2.. Basic errors
At Headingley Hull were almost perfect in the error department. This though was a different story. To some extent you can credit St Helens as they drained the Black and Whites in that second half, but when you have Connor kicking the ball out on the full, Fonua losing the ball on the first tackle, and Naulago going into touch after a forced pass, you’ve got a problem. These were all in the first half too, a half in which Hull’s grit and certainly not smarts took them into the lead.
Those errors continued after the break; kicks out on the full, dropped catches etc. How about Swift though. The winger played the ball and NO player was within ten metres of him. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Switch your heads on, lads.
Hull must cut out these stupid mistakes. It was two stupid mistakes and then some questionable defence that allowed St Helens to get a roll on in the first place, and once they did there was no stopping them.
3.. That’s why they’re champions
A few words on the Super League champions then. Impressive. The first half was tight, nip and tuck, with defences on top and Hull arguably edging it. Second half? No contest. Of course Hull mistakes helped, but Saints were ruthless as all good champion sides are. As soon as Hull started to really use the interchange the away side got a sniff and executed superbly. In many respects Saints did to Hull what Hull did to their oppositions in the first two rounds. They went up a couple of gears and Hull just couldn’t handle that quality.
Saints play fast and direct and their shape is superb. Everything is so slick. They get mileage into the ball and they stretch you, but they are equally at home in hitting their lead runners. They are the benchmark right now and there’s some work to be done to get to that level.
4.. There’s only one Gareth Ellis
If you think Gareth Ellis playing on into 2020 is predominately for sentimental reasons then you might want to reconsider. The old warhorse, who turns 39-years-young in a couple of months, was absolutely phenomenal.
Ellis was the biggest Hull positive of the day. He played the full first half and then around 10 of the second before going off. His work rate was sublime, making tackle after tackle and not just your average tackle either. Ellis doesn’t do those. He hits with everything he’s got and when those players hit the deck they bloody well know about it.
Captain. Leader. Legend. He only knows one way. Sao is worth a mention too. He was good again and has started the year superbly.
5.. Classy Carlos
Carlos Tuimavave is an extremely under-rated rugby league player. He’s up there with the slickest Hull have got too, and has started the season like a house on fire.
The thing about Carlos is that he makes the game look easy, whether gliding across the field, or with his crisp passing. We’re all guilty of not realising how good he is from time to time as that performance level is the norm now. But he really is sheer class.